There's a storyline hidden away at the centre of The Elf, the latest unsuccessful attempt to create a new Christmas horror movie (which, at the very least, avoids utilising the overused Krampus), but I'll be damned if I could tell you what it was. I was too busy imagining how much better my life would be if I spent 90 minutes smashing baubles into my face and jamming candy canes under my toenails. This was a painful experience. Not fun, not distractingly gory, and not concerned with anything that might actually draw you into the movie.
Written and directed by Justin Price, the story starts off with a young man who inherits a toy shop. But he dislikes Christmas, making him unlikely to be thrilled at the idea of a toy shop (surely). There's a lengthy sequence showing this young man (Nick, played by Gabriel Miller) and his girlfriend (Victoria, played by Natassia Halabi) rummaging around in the toy store, and then it's off to a household full of annoying people that are going to be spending Christmas with our nominal leads. The elf is also there, of course. A toy that just appears, despite Nick and Victoria explaining to one another that they did not move it from the shop. And then, before you can shout "a rum pa pum pum", the killing starts. And, from the very first scenes of murder, I was on the side of the elf.
It's hard to list every single thing wrong with this movie. Needless to say, carelessness and laziness and too many restraints all coagulate together to make one hell of a mess. This could have been a bit of silly fun, ultimately disposable but worth 90 minutes of your time when you have had just the right amount of eggnog, but Price seems to go out of his way to make it an endurance test. Scenes that could be tense are edited and paced so poorly that you stop caring within seconds, the script is so embarrassing at times that I had to wonder if anyone was shown it before they signed on, and the acting is so bad that I then had to wonder if anyone had actually auditioned before Price gave them script pages. Maybe Price was grateful to find anyone to read his atrocious lines out loud and maybe the cast members were just grateful to get some work.
There's one moment that made me smirk, I'll give it that. A ridiculous scene that has some pushy carol singers caught up in the middle of the mayhem. But that was the only scene. Every other moment in this movie was either painful to watch or painfully boring. And I will put a lot of the blame for that on Price, but also a fair portion of it on someone named Khu, who is credited as producer, editor, and cinematographer. Going by the end result here, Khu has about as much experience in those fields as I do.
If you're considering giving this one a watch then I would strongly advise against it. In fact, you'd have more fun soaking your face in brandy and then leaning over a flaming Christmas pudding, becoming one with the fire and singing holiday songs while the skin from your face sloughs off and sizzles on the top of a pudding that nobody else will now want any part of. Or, y'know, you could just not watch it.
There's only one Elf you need on your shelf.
Americans can overpay for it here.